Brokers Hear Everything

Teri Karush Rogers of The New York Times is writing about something that brokers all know about: this job can give you a hell of a lot insight into people’s personal lives:

In the course of probing for information, brokers sometimes encounter far more than they really want to know or need to know. Details that might make a therapist wince, or at least write faster.
“More so than any other profession, I think you get to see the window of people’s inner souls in a kind of hyper-reality superquick time,” said Rob Gross, a senior vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman. “Is it big enough to have kids, do I want to have kids, do I want to live in the city for the rest of my life? Do I want to move out to the suburbs? Should I move out? Real estate just opens up the kimono. And you see it all, beauty and warts.”
For brokers, the line between information they need to do their jobs and information that’s just embarrassing is an occupational hazard most often encountered when dealing with couples.

Perhaps we as brokers can start charging hourly fees for the therapy and advice we provide to clients? Talk about opening a can of worms. We’re right there with bartenders, hairstylists, manicurists, accountants, financial planners, and cab drivers.
Sometimes you can find yourslef in compromising positions where the ability to remain objective becomes as important as an asking price or whether a buyer wants a fireplace, a terrace, or a building with a pool (another interesting piece in The Times about new projects with pools).
This article reminds me of one instance when I became something of a counselor for a divorcing couple selling their apartment. They were both claiming that the other was mentally ill (neither was but the stress of the divorce sure gave that appearance) and their paranoia was a continuous obstacle to the sale of their apartment. There were children involved, pets, substance abuse, restraining orders and even jail at one point. At the end of their divorce proceedings the judge and me were the only two people in the world that both husband and wife would talk to.
My team and I finally sold their property–but not before we all experienced an emotional draining and extra long hours as we found ourselves personally vested in the well-being of the husband, wife, children, and even pets. I am happy to report that the divorce was indeed finalized and all parties went on to live happily ever after.
Moral of the story… good real estate brokers are hard working “human beings” who often help far beyond the minimum requirements. Thinking about clients like that, it kills me that so many people assume brokers are essentially slimey used car salesman at heart.

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